Tuesday, March 31, 2009

WDJD (What Did Jesus Do) ?

Happening upon another debate on a religious political party Facebook group hate wall, I noticed somebody posted the following in a debate about GLBT and their party's dicriminatory policies:

"God gave us freedom of choice so if you want to be bisexual, be bisexual; if you want to be a pedophile, that is your choice;"

So who's a hypocrite now?

This person equates being GLBT with having a "choice" when in fact there is none - and then she blatantly disproved her bragging statements that she is a follower of a loving Christ by committing an act of hate in comparing a bisexual person (who hurts no-one) with a pedophile who hurts children (and is statistically most often heterosexual). Then she went on to say:

"but know that when God calls you to stand before Him on judgement day to see your life on the 'big screen'- make sure you are prepared to handle the consequences"

I hope this Sue can face that day herself - knowing she has sided with those who would kill people for being born different, stripping them of their dignity and equality out of false piety and the rubbish rhetoric of hate. If they have their way, of course - which is just what would happen should this party in question come to power in this country.

I was happy to point the following out to them:

This party is filled with and supported by people who would do blatant evil in the name of a loving god - it is not I who should fear appearing before God on the day of judgment - but you.

I look forward to that day, to see justice done.

The question you should be asking yourselves is this: WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? - But more to the point, my narrow-minded lemming friends, What DID Jesus do?

Did HE ever say or do anything against GLBT people? No? So then why do YOU?

At the end of all things you can say "but Pastor So-and-so said this was wrong and I believed him" and "Reverend This-or-that told me to do those things to those people, and I did it" - this will simply not do. We do make choices in our lives, true - but being born gay or trans is not a choice. Being a bigot and a persecutor of others most certainly is - and that is your choice - your free will. And if there is a God and a day of judgment, these are the people who will have a reason to fear.

Grow a brain and think for yourselves, and while you are at it, grow a soul and a heart to go with it! And yes, Sue - I used inverted commas around "Christianity" - because while this grouping uses the name - this coven of false witness is NOT it.

Another person to add his five cent's worth is often full of false plastic praise for me and saying how much he as a Christian 'loves' us lowly gay folk, while never failing to point out how 'wrong' and 'misguided' we are - not forgetting the fact that the party he represents has official policies which condemn GLBT and will not hesitate to criminalize GLBT folk and remove all civil rights should they ever win an election. How lucky for us lowly criminal sexual deviants then, that this group which brags "1 million supporters for the X party" only has 600 odd followers. Shame - good luck for the election, guys - you have a whole month left to get the other 940 000 000.

Dear Birthwell,

Your praise of me and the "concern" you show is empty and shallow, for you have revealed the hate you feel for those who are different by your bigoted comments in this and earlier conversations. Save the show for church on Sunday - your friends may fall for it, but God sees through you - as do I.

You stand upon high ground looking arrogantly down upon others who are in fact equal to you, as sinful as the rest of us, no more clean than any other fellow sinner. You hypocrite - you have a boulder in your eye - attend to that first before criticizing your brother for the speck in his!

You claim to have found God, but instead of serving Him, you stand before Him and mock Him to His face with your false piety.

Does it not say in John "how can you claim to love God who you haven't seen, but hate your neighbour whom you have seen?" - And before you lie by claiming yet again to love GLBT people - remember that making outcasts of people is not showing love, but hate.

Blessed are the peacemakers - and yet you pursue a war on people only wanting to live in peace beside you..

And that says all I - and everyone here - needs to know about you."

I must admit I felt much better afterwards - but still, the realization that you can have a rational debate with bigots about as easily as you can negotiate with terrorists, was a sobering thought indeed. After all - are they not the same thing?

Monday, March 30, 2009

COPE Lied To Us!

Late last year I was part of a group that lobbied the new party COPE to include GLBT rights in its policies and manifesto. COPE was then making all the right human rights noises and astonishingly even invited GLBT to the table. It seems in hindsight, that it may well have been just another ploy to win as much support as they could, at almost any cost. Almost.

The two page long list of matters affecting GLBT submitted to COPE were initially well recieved, talked about and the small group of activists I was a part of were praised as 'human rights champions' - and then at the Bloemfontein Conference the list was tossed in file 13 and only a tiny mention of "sexual orientation" went into the COPE policy document, with "gender identity" being inexplicably left out altogether - and no mention of either being made in the election manifesto. To date no explanation for this strange behavior was ever offered, just excuses, despite rigorous questioning on our part. Some people on the COPE Facebook group at the time made the suggestion that 'gay rights are simply not important enough'. I find that remark appalling in the light of human rights abuses that still plague GLBT in SA.

Today for example, the Minister of the Presidency, our old health minister and friend, Manto "Dr Beetroot" Mse Mang, addressed "outstanding issues" on human rights such as the indigenous tradition of "forced marriages" - but funny enough hasn't said a word about the so-called "corrective rape" of lesbians currently rampant here in SA. Is that not an outstanding issue? People as far away as Alaska know about this issue in SA - but why has the SA government not taken it up yet - or even released a statement to acknowledge the existence of this problem and what it intends doing about it?

But I digress - not long after, it was announced that Pieter Marais of the New Labor Party was to be included in COPE and then we also tackled them on the matter of including a homophobe in the party hierarchy.The man clearly opposes GLBT equality - he and his New Labour Party were up until late last year even part of the Christian Democratic Alliance and helped draft - and signed - the so-called "Christian Charter" and subscribed to the rigidly anti-gay policy of the CDA.

Then Marais toddled off to join COPE, leaving the CDA to bitterly criticize his oh so unexpected betrayal.

COPE even reassured us Marais would be given no position where he could harm GLBT rights and "would have to toe the party line". The party also obscured whether he had brought the NLP with him to COPE, or if he was there simply as an individual, because such questions were deliberately either left unanswered or simply ignored.

Marais even made a statement at the time saying "the gays are out to get him" because we were lobbying COPE for an explanation for his inclusion. Guilty conscience?

Now it seems COPE (and Marais) revealed he was indeed placed in a position of power - COPE knowing full well that he is anti-gay - and because of his reputation it seems, he has finally been sidelined and has actually resigned (from yet another party) because of it!

But wait, there's more - a month or so ago COPE started romancing the religious right vote by appointing a Bishop as its presidential candidate. Dandala once was a co-leader of SACLA (South African Christian Leadership Assembly), a homophobic Christian group which waged open war on same gender marriage a few years ago - along with Michael Cassidy - an openly hateful anti-gay rights campaigner. Dandala was also head of the AACC (All Africa Council of Churches) and as such he was quoted as saying many things about poverty and the HIV epidemic in African countries over which he held sway - such as Uganda - but not once has he been quoted as saying one single thing about the appalling human rights abuses against gay and transgender people in that same country, where religious leaders even call for the starvation to death of gay people as "punishment" for being gay. The question is simply screaming to get out: Did he simply not know about this rampant homophobic hatred in Uganda - or did he just think it wasn't worth commenting on? Take your pick - because he isn't answering, and neither is COPE. It seems COPE is now completely ignoring the interests of the GLBT community.

In February we publicly withdrew all support and endorsement for COPE - and were immediately beset upon by character assassins - apparently well educated, though you wouldn't guess by their narrow views - who made it pretty clear what they thought of anyone who dared to disagree with their theocratic wisdom. Not that it worried me too much - you tend to grow quite a thick skin while growing up with people who spit at you in the street, calling you a "f***ing queer piece of shit". In fact, since Dandala's appointment, on the COPE Facebook group the warning against derogatory remarks on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity has been taken down.

All this just shows where COPE's interests lie - and it isnt with GLBT or human rights! And it also shows that Marais (ex LP, NP, NNP, NLP, DA, CDA, COPE) is now such an unstable element (fortunately) that no self respecting party will ever touch him or take him seriously.

Bearing this in mind, apparently he is with the ANC now.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

- Next!

Today the rights, dignity and equality of gay and trans people are under relentless attack from people who use religion - and even the same religion of their victims - against them as a weapon. It is not just the rights we seek to be equal to them that they assault - but us as people as well. Gay-haters make physical attacks on hapless outnumbered victims, those thinking of themselves as "christian soldiers" have even bombed gay establishments around the world. America launched a war against terror for just one incident, horrible as it was - and yet for decades, GLBT have been on the receiving end of a largely ignored, publicly condoned and silent War OF Terror.

They attack not only who we are, but our right to exist at all. They strive to remove every vestige of the rights to freedom of speech FOR US - while claiming the same rights in order to launch their public attacks on us around the globe. They seek to prevent us from expressing our culture, our way of life, our right to love who we want, to marry who we love and to not be attacked, victimized or even murdered for it.

For almost every festival celebrating pride, diversity, gay rights, or freedoms of expression out there, there is a lobby by some or other conservative and usually religious fundamentalist group which seeks, on the grounds of some or other trumped up accusations or exaggerated religious objections to have such festivals and events banned. Email campaigns and even the media, are brought to bear on municipal authorities to exert the pressure of a minority group - often even smaller than that of GLBT - to silence and disempower us simply because they happen to hate us.

This fight over the Pink Loerie Mardis Gras, ongoing for several years now, is more than just a fight over a location to hold a festival - it is about the relentless attack upon GLBT dignity and equal rights by a small group of fundamentalists who use religion as a weapon and a tool to give expression to their hatred of those who are different to themselves.

No matter where we have such festivals, they will pursue means to remove them until there is nowhere left for us to hold any festivals at all. That is the depth of their hate, the strength of their resolve - and we must be prepared to meet it - or cheerfully give up all our rights and leave the country - or prepare ourselves for far worse than just losing the right to same gender marriage.

It is put up or shut up time in SA.

This is not about religious offense, it is not about "protecting children", it is not about "morality" or even "public indecency" - it is about selfishness, self-righteousness, hypocrisy and intolerance of diversity and the elevation of indefensible religious bigotry over the equal rights of others.

It isn't in the end just about Knysna - but the fact that they don't want us to have equality or any rights at all - and this is the expression of their hate for us - one town at a time, one festival at a time, one right at a time.

This is an enemy that knows it is in the spotlight of bad publicity right now - it is an enemy that has been at this longer than we have - it is an enemy with connections and support stretching around the world, and it is an enemy that is quite determined enough to bide its time until we let down our guard or until it feels circumstances will favor its strategies.

This is a war they have declared on us - and they do call it that, a WAR - and the Pink Loerie is just one battleground among many - but if we lose it because of a lack of interest, it will be like giving it all away to them. They will use such a public loss to inspire more of their minions to rally against equality and diversity in the name of intolerance and bigotry.

This we cannot allow.

Religious fundamentalism has committed some pretty ugly atrocities in the past. More blood has been spilled in religious purges and wars in the name of various gods than for any other cause. For some unclear reason religion, and particularly Christianity, displays an innate need to unite itself against some group - any group - in order to grow and maintain its power and social status. The unfortunate minority (because taking on groups with bigger numbers would be pretty dumb - even for fundamentalists) is then suitably made out to be a scapegoat for whatever is - in the opinion of those who lead - not according to "god's will" - or (more importantly) theirs. In short, this whole thing can be reduced to a simple philosophy of Us And Them.

After all, without anyone suitable to blame for thorny social, political or economic problems, how else can they shift attention away from their own complicity and responsibility in the things that bother them about society - or their own apparent inability to solve them? "It's not our fault - blame the queers!"

They play a dangerous game of "Pass the Buck" with the lives of others (- that's "pass the bucket" to those Souf Efrikins who also persist in saying "visA versa").

Religion is the biggest tool and most devastating weapon for those who seek to control society. (What better way to do so than to build your own prejudices and rules into your religion and then make other people believe it too?) Yet it would seem that these religious fundamentalists are slowly running out of scapegoats to hold their fundamentalist ship together.

No really - think about it - they already used religion to make women into second class citizens subservient and inferior to men; they committed genocide against the Jews; they segregated, enslaved and disenfranchised the colored folk and now they are busy persecuting people for their sexual orientation and gender identity.

After the Holocaust, somebody wrote an article which I will try to relay from memory as follows: "When they came for the Gypsies I said nothing because I was not a Gypsy. When they came for the Blacks I said nothing because I was not Black. When they came for the Jews I said nothing because I was not a Jew. When they came for me, there was nobody left to speak out for me."

They have shifted their focus onto gay and transgender people now - their intentions are clear - and the question is begging to be asked:

After us, who's next?

Friday, March 27, 2009

There Is No Fence!

A feminist friend pointed out to me the other day that men seem to be the root cause of all of women's - and society's ills:

We have MENstruation, MENopause, MENtal illness, deMENtia,

...and it seems now we can add fundaMENtalism as well.

She may have a point.

We talked about her marriage issues and the fact that some men can be such backward neanderthals, just short of actually dragging their knuckles on the cave floor and treating women as if they are somehow lesser beings just because they are generally smaller and are more evolved in that they have their sexual organs on the inside... and that was just about her hubby dearest.

We also made a few boisterous jokes around the saying that women come from Venus and men come from Mars - and should probably have stayed there.

Before somebody goes apeshit on me again for being a man-hater - please bear in mind that this is really not the case. I like men. I even loved a few in my time. My father was a man, and so once upon a time not too long ago, was I. (As you can imagine this state of affairs has gifted me with a unique point of view.) When it comes to fences and green grass, I have walked - and grazed - on both sides.

In fact, this adage seems to indicate to me the MENtality behind patriarchy-enforced gender roles. The only place this exists is in the mind, where the patriarchy has, through religion and manipulation, placed it.

There (really) is no fence!

It seems some people in SA are following a former potato farmer called Angus Buchan who is often the target of jokes concerning the red phone to God in his back pocket and his silly looking hat. Even sillier than his hat is the claim that this man has visions and speaks for God (hence the red phone) - and coincidentally preaches a chauvinistic conservative message that smells remarkably of compost. The topics this man so often addresses? Why, MEN taking back the world of course -starting with their families, getting women to "respect" them as the "god appointed leader" of 'the family", (I'm sorry, spud - but "respect" has to be earned) sticking to the biblicly defined gender roles with women staying home to fetch and carry after 'the boss' and encourages men to take charge of the raising of their sons as 'manly men'. It seems to me that this man is simply echoing - apeing, if you will - the conservative right wing biblical literalist rhetoric of his American colleagues, and his popularity is worryingly growing - like a cancer. He encourages men to stand up and 'take back' what was never theirs in the first place.

Unsurprisingly, he advocates 'ex-gay therapy' for GLBT, saying that people should 'pray away the gay'. And millions of lemmings flock to listen to this nonsense - even, unbelievably, women. Worst of all, this fundamentalist oppressor of the female sex and hater of GLBT is also becoming popular in other places, such as the UK and (surprise, surprise) the US. What is wrong with these people?

It seems to me that Buchan has stopped farming potatoes - and has instead started talking to them.

Apparently gay people and feminists are seen as serious threats to "the family" and to civilization because they dare to drain and neutralize the power of the almighty patriarchy - which to my mind is overrated, obsolete and fairly inefficient anyway. The old adage that a world run by men is full of war and misery, while a world run by women would be well run by homemakers seems to apply quite well here.

How can anybody tie problems in the real world (whether these are made up or not) with men not fulfilling their supposed "mandate from god" and running the family with an iron fist? (Come on, they can't even run the world properly without f***ing that up, for Pete's sakes!) For three thousand years men have run the earth into the ground, fighting genocidal wars of attrition out of misguided ego and brute force. How will men supposedly taking over "the family" make any difference?

To add to that, what is this "the family" anyway? Is it some kind of geographic location, a military objective or an object locked up in a vault somewhere? The way Buchan and others such as James Dobson speak of this theoretical thing, it might as well be. They claim that "the family" is the building block of civilization, which surprisingly enough is quite correct - because for us as social creatures, this is the basis for the formation of groups and culture and society.

But what these nice people do not mention is that there are many different forms of family and that there is in fact NO "the" family.

The basic building block of any close relationship - and thus any family - is LOVE. And therefore, love is the true defining characteristic of a family - and what it means to be a family. Two men or two women with or without children, or a straight couple with their GLBT child - are all families. They will NEVER simply stop being a family just because a few nasty men thumping a holy book in their irrational and un-Christian disgust and anger say so. GLBT people are all part of a family somewhere - how do they possibly threaten anybody?

The only thing they may unwittingly pose a threat to is the totalitarian concept of the uber-male dominated society. The patriarchy. "The what?" I hear some asking? No, I am not kidding - do you think the patriarchy isn't a fact of life? Where do you think the phrase "It's a man's world" came from? Have you not heard of "glass ceilings" in your place of work, preventing women or people of color, or diverse gender or sexuality from advancing their careers beyond a certain level? Are women today not still discriminated against? Do women not get (inexplicably I might add) paid less than male colleagues with the same experience and qualifications as them? Are women in some countries not treated like talking cattle which their husbands take out of their closets to f*** occasionally? Are female rape victims not viewed with prejudice and have their misfortune blamed on the way they were dressed or on their previous sexual conduct, somehow excusing an 80kg male gorrilla from not understanding the simple one syllable word "no"?

For another matter, even the bible they are beating people over the head with does NOT subjugate women to the rule of men. The original texts show later translations to have been deliberately changed in order to give this impression - so it seems that from early on the patriarchy was up to its tricks. And for almost three thousand years this loose collection of seperate holy books have been used to force women into subjugation - and GLBT into the role of the scapegoat (aMEN to that). You think I'm making this up? Check here

To close, the patriarchy views us all as a threat to their supremacy - gays, lesbians, transgender - and even heterosexual feminists who would dare to challenge these relics of the dinosaur age - and to show them that their extinction is nigh! You know what this makes us?

Allies.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Road To Heaven Is Paved With Hell

Taking on the immense hate there is out there for gay and transgender people is a very, very difficult thing to do. You open yourself up to all sorts of attack, both verbally and physically - in the online world and also in the real world.

In the past few years I have built up a small collection of what I call "fan mail" from "admirers" who have threatened - even from half the world away - to hurt me and even to kill me. Some of the lesser creative ones have even threatened legal action without any solid basis whatever for daring to tackle their unadulterated bigotry. Some of them would make pretty good one-liners, except they have no actual punchline. Just to cheer me up, I have also committed to memory the verbal threats and bullying I have been faced with in real life.

Once, I was even called the most unbelievably vile things by a teenager just because of my gender identity - and this young man actually had the gall to afterwards proudly claim that he was a "Christian", even though the below-the-bible-belt explatives he vented at me did not reflect that. There is something wrong with our collective view of what it is to be Christian - or even good people, because even an atheist - or an agnostic like me - can be a good person.

I have oft consoled myself that if the right people hate me enough to send me such flattering material, then I must logically be doing something, well - right. But even so, it is not really enough to just piss off the bad guys - you need to not actually piss off the good guys too.

Taking on people who can spout such blatant hatefulness in the name of what I always believed to be a loving god just makes me see red. Even more difficult than just taking on those who hate innocent people, is containing the anger one feels at the injustice of it all - and therein lies the problem.

The bigots really have it easy, because they claim to speak for all "true" Christians, and it is easy to sit back on their pedastals and point fingers down at people taking them on about their lies and hatred - and to claim that those who disagree with them are attacking all Christians and Christian teachings. Some people actually believe this.

For me the most difficult, complex and intricate challenges that face an activist is that in tackling those who hate gay people using the name of what is mostly a loving faith as a powerful weapon - the good and loving Christians are often tarred with the same brush as the bigots.

This is regrettable and not the intention of those standing in the way of people who would put words in the mouth of God and shed innocent blood in his name. At least it is not my intention. I know many people who are Christians and yet who refuse to judge me and who welcome me in the love of friendship and family. I even know the inside of a local church that welcomes and loves GLBT people - and I am among them.

What then is my intention?

To challenge bigotry and false teachings about gay and trans people, to oppose the hate permeating religious circles in South Africa today in the line of what is today being called "biblical literalism" and fundamentalism. To educate people and to challenge them to think for themselves and to exercise their free will to make their own decisions and choices and not to let blind faith in what other people have been bashing them over the heads with to further their own selfish aims prevent them from seeing the truth.

Education is the key. People fear what they do not know or understand. I have seen that first hand as a transgender person who transitioned in a male dominated macho military environment, how fear and ridicule gradually gave way to curiosity and then later, as questions were freely asked and answered, acceptance and even friendship.

I have mostly tried to follow this precedent when dealing with fundamentalist Christian gay-haters and those who I encountered campaigning to remove GLBT rights from the Constitution under the false impression that they are somehow "Christian soldiers" fighting for God.

For one thing I have tried to point out to them is that, if there is indeed a God, he is a powerful being who most certainly does not need specks of dust to fight insignificant battles for him - nor would he look very kindly upon those who have taken it upon themselves to spill innocent blood in his name.

It seems to me that this fear of education or enlightenment about GLBT matters and the campaign to prevent this from reaching people is manifestation that the bigots dont want people to stop fearing GLBT. Obviously this would stop them from hating GLBT, which would slightly derail their plans for uniting all of Christendom in voting certain small fundamentalist parties into theocratic government in SA, and uniting in stripping a minority group of its hard earned civil and human rights and equality.

And they want it so bad that right now, they can almost taste it.

In the past I may have even overstepped the mark and unwittingly offended loving and open minded Christians with 'friendly fire' along with the bigots. In the process I may have created the impression that I may be anti-christian, when this is not so. While I have my own views on religion and the closest I get to it these days is eating a hot-cross bun, this is not the case.

I have on occasion remarked that I am ashamed to be called a Christian - and if people like Jimmy Swaggart who claim to speak for God and said on video tape that if a gay man flirted with him he would "kill him and tell god he died" define the term "Christian" - then this is indeed so.

People like him and those who support him define the meaning of the word 'bigot' and spread hate and incitement to it - and such hate results in such awful tragedies as "corrective rape", murder and other crimes.

Were I ever to recover the faith in this god that I have lost because of people such as this who claim authoritatively that 'gays make god vomit' and that god hates his own creation, then I would most definitely never call myself a Christian again.

What I would like to point out to those starting out as activists is the following. Call it my humble two cents worth taken from my limited experience: The important thing when taking on bigots directly is to answer fallacy with fact and to educate the public in the process - hopefully without alienating all the other Christians in the process who might actually agree with you. After all, you can seldom argue a bigot into changing his mind (and yes, there is something wrong with the one he has, but you don't need to point it out) - but through your argument you can show those who read the argument what the bigot is, by his own words and the hate in them - and how wrong.

Through this, people can be educated. In all the time I fought bigotry on the forum called Minekey, only ONE person ever contacted me to apologize for his uneducated assumptions and to thank me for showing him the actual truth. While this is a small number, it is gratifying to know that at least there was one - and that uncounted others had also seen the debate and learned from it. This can be applied in public forums almost anywhere.

Some wall posts and letters remain available online on forums and websites for years after and can still prove useful, so you can save them or distibute them or even post links to them on other forums for others to see.

Knowledge is power - and evidence of hate is food for thought, and I think people are feeling a bit peckish.

Being gay or transgender is no joke in todays world. Even in civilized places - or places we consider to be civilized - like the USA, there is so much hatred for "the other" that gay and transgender people are brutalized and slain simply for being who they are. The fuel for this blazing inferno of hate? Christian fundamentalism combined with biblical literalism - the folk who cut their whole faith down to a book - and then take out what they consider the essence of it and then distill a cold hard hate out of it.

They are usually the folk who claim "God said it, I believe it, that settles it" - and then set about demanding the death penalty and judging others they would like to see stoned or hung and attack the equality of GLBT and anyone who happens to disagree.

If only they could see how wrong they are. And how arrogant. It is said by some that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Facing the hate we as GLBT do in this world today, I would say instead that the road to heaven is paved with hell.

The Taste Of Irony

For the past three days I have heard people bantering on about the poor Dalai Lama being denied a visa to enter SA, about what a fantastic human rights icon he is for trying to free Tibet from Chinese rule (to return it to his rule, of course) - but not a word about his dark views on GLBT people.

Enough!

Barbara Hogan, our new health minister has set the cat among the pigeons by daring to criticize her ANC masters for refusing a visa to the Dalai Lama. Apparently the public at large view this man as a man of peace and some kind of spiritual icon. She even expects the government to apologize to the people of SA for this action.

I'm sorry, but I find this whole situation incredible and somewhat ironic. If you bear with me, I will explain.

First, the irony:

In the past three years since the passing of the ammendments allowing same gender marriage, much has changed in the ranks of the ANC. The views on homosexuality in the ruling party seem to have shifted to the far right, with govenment refusing to support certain initiatives because it fears alienating the other countries in Africa who pursue rigorously anti-gay policies. Having a party president making homophobic slurs and inviting negotiations with fundamentalists on gay rights issues to win their votes doesnt help sway me in this opinion either. As an example I once again quote the UN Declaration to decriminalize homosexuality which SA refused to sign last year "out of principle". Add to that the stony silence of SA's government over the past ten years on the matter of human rights abuses of gay citizens of countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia and so on, aside from inaction on local matters such as so-called "corrective rape" and the homophobically motivated murder of lesbians.

Now, I don't know how many of you have been paying any attention to current events, but it seems that the vaunted Dalai Lama's record is not quite as clean as people think. According to USPolitics.tribe.net, The Dalai Lama’s views were so anti-Gay and anti-Lesbian that they had to be deleted from Tom Grunfeld’s book, “The Making of Modern Tibet” to make the book saleable. http://uspolitics.tribe.net/thread/9bab4ae4-6855-4f90-9643-3a993e5b0711 . Reading the rest of the article casts a different light on this human rights icon entirely - as does reading the other articles which come up in web searches on the man and his views on sexual and gender diversity.

Documentary evidence says where there is smoke there is fire, be it in this case holy smoke or otherwise.

It seems he just may have hired some spin doctors to clean up his act for the West, that's all. Not to pick nits folks, I have no beef with you or your religion - just the bigots, and apparently he's one of them - so sorry.

Let's address this irony with a question: Why has Ms Hogan waited until now for this particular moment to speak out "for human rights" when a homophobe at the head of a world religion is prevented from entering SA - and not before in the above instances? I'm pretty sure that when the Pope visits they won't block his visa, but will scuttle after him to kiss the ground he walks on - and this former Hitler Youth member sees no need to hide his open hatred for gay and trans people, making statements in the press that regularly make my neck hair stand on end.

Apparently SA has denied entry to this man because of SA's relations with China and thus it is pure politics, not morality (unfortunately) coming into play with the government having a sudden attack of conscience about gay rights. Im pretty sure they wont be banging the UN's doors down to say they want to sign their Declaration because they have had a change of heart - although it would be nice.

I can see the irony, can you?

Just for once, even by accident the government has got something right - so no, sorry Barbie - I don't want an apology from the government for keeping a bigot out of the country - but if you guys really support human rights as you nice folks claim, you can put your money where your mouths are and go sign the UN Declaration to decriminalize homosexuality and start opposing the rampant homophobia in Africa regardless of who still wants to join an economic African Union or "United States of Africa" with you afterwards. No apology forthcoming for that though, is there? In short, SA's government should grow a spine and stop compromising on human rights values just to be popular with the wrong people - ie those who care jack about human rights and put their own power and enrichment first.

Now let's get to the incredible part:

Some people, who usually support me when I am taking on GLBT rights abusers (which are frequently Christian fundamentalists and just occasionally of the Muslim variety), have found reason to try and nail me for daring to accuse the Dalai Lama of being a homophobe and for adding that I am honestly glad he has been denied a visa to enter SA. I didn't make the first accusation, nor did I just pull it out of the air, nor did I suck it out of my thumb. I did the intelligent thing and went looking for proof and evidence.

But apparently when it comes to religion, proof and evidence mean squat (just ask a Christian fundamentalist whether he knows science proves gay people are born gay and you will see what I mean).

In fact, the argument went downhill pretty fast, with presented evidence being rejected and the whole thing spiralling into observations that I don't know fresca about Bhuddism and have crossed all sorts of invisible lines etc. They are quite right, I don't know much about Bhuddism - but I do know homophobia, heterosexism, bigotry - and especially religious bigotry.

As far as I am concerned, bigotry in strawberry or vanilla flavor is still bigotry.

I tried to make a point that these folks were just preferring to blindly accept this "holy" man's convenient PR-contrived denial that he is not a bigot in the face of contrary evidence - and was subsequently lambasted with the accusation that if I were a Bhuddist I would 'know how to look, listen, question and come to my own conclusions' about things.

Indeed. So why are they not doing so?

I can draw but two conlusions from these conversations - being 1) that I am somehow ignorant for calling a bigot a bigot. Ok then, I know squat about their religion - but shouldn't these Dalai Lama fans be looking at the evidence, question the fact and fiction and come to their own conclusions about this matter? And 2) it is perfectly fine with some folks for me to take on religious bigotry and fundamentalism in the fight for GLBT equality - just as long as it isn't their religion in the "cross fire".

I think it is amazing that the same people who like it when I take on Christian fundamentalists about their bigoted opposition to the equal rights and dignity of GLBT suddenly turn around and try to crucify me because I dare to speak the truth about matters relating not to their entire religion, but just to individuals of their own religion doing the same.

Some people have called me anti-christian because I dared to start a campaign to have that gay-hating bigot James Dobson removed from SA radio - in spite of the reams of proof, even in his own words - that he has been waging a personal war as part of the US religious right wing against GLBT since 1977. As I have said countless times before, I am not anti-christian - but I stand against the bigots who call themselves Christians and claim to speak for them all in their hatred for innocent people.

Next, people may start trying to convince me the Catholic Pope (I don't want him here either) really is "god on earth", strolls on water and is a warm lover of human rights and does not hate gay or trans people and that these groups do in fact pose a threat to civilization and the rain forest.

Pull the other one, it has bells on.

Religious hate is still hate, no matter what religion's name it comes wrapped in. While I may appreciate the occasional need for diplomacy and political correctness and expediency, I will not make a hypocrite of myself by toe-ing the line simply to be popular.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

High Altitude Atitudes

Diversity seems to scare some people. The thought of being equal to people they look down upon and think of as dirty or "too different" can scare them out of their half-wits. In another sense, this being brought down to the level of the rest of us ordinary sinful mortals makes some people doubt their own religion and forces them to face the fact that perhaps what they believe in is not as sound as they thought - and that the only way to 'save face' is to deny all truth and facts and turn extreme fundamentalist and to look for scapegoats to blame their worldly woes on. This is what seems to be happening in SA and around the world today.

Ten or so years ago the thought of people of all colours living together in peace and mutual respect and dignity - with full equal rights - in this country, scared some so much that at the time of the 1994 elections they had stocked up candles, parafin, tinned food and of course, weapons. Membership levels in paramilitary racist fascist groups like the AWB escalated for some time until these groups went the way of the dinosaurs. Some people hastily emigrated. (Some still do, joining what is today called the "chicken run", making jokes like "will the last person to leave SA please blow out the candle"). That is how some feel today about "giving" equality to GLBT people - they look down on those who differ from what they consider to be the "norm" - and thus to them this high altitude atitude gives them the self-assumed "right" to persecute.

Back in the late eighties and early nineties SA churches were polarized by the matter of racial politics. There were those using the "word of god" in favor of human rights, and those using the very same "word" of the very same god to justify apartheid and the "morality" of taking away those human rights. This trend is today disturbingly familiar, with the very same book being used by both sides to justify opposing doctrines.

Today instead of black people - it is the GLBT people running the gauntlet of religious fundamentalism. It is no longer viewed as politically or even morally correct to attack or criticize people on the grounds of race - but in some churches, the ordinary pink folk next door or in the office across the hall are still fair game. These religious imperialists are dressing their followers in red and declaring open season on innocent fellow citizens. In many ways those who claim "Gay is the new black" are right on the money.

Science has in the past decade or so made significant progress in proving genetic and biological "causes" for people being born GLBT or I - and provides evidence which cannot be simply dismissed or explained away with cryptic or vague references to dogma or even "faith". Yet most consistently, fundamentalist Christians who coincidentally are also largely involved in gay-hating organizations around the world, have denied it and tried to disprove it by using what? A 3000 year old collection of fantasy and picturesque imagery - and the trumped up psuedo-science of right wing gay-hater and former psychologist Paul Cameron, which every reputable scientific body has laughed into the obscurity it so richly deserves. Right wing gay-hating Christian political groups snap up everything his organization has in print and put it in the same folder as their bible, calling it all "scientifically proven" and "proof" that GLBT are "perverts" who are "not born gay or trans", but "choose to sin" and "follow a sinful lifestyle" by "rejecting God" and threaten the holy "family unit" and civilization!

Come on!

Despite the knowledge freely available for several years even up to today (to those who are interested in learning the truth instead of propagandistic BS), this very morning I was informed that a gay man (call him Mr "X") was called onto the red carpet by his employer specifically because of his sexuality. Apparently the boss's "dominee" last Sunday had the arrogance (and brute stupidity) to publicly blame his company's current 'rough times' on their continued employment of "perverts" such as Mr X at his company. Mr "X" had yesterday lodged a complaint that co-workers had been acerbically taunting him over this matter since monday morning, and over similar matters previously. So this morning Mr "X" was criticized on said red-carpet by management for being involved with 'devilworship' and 'immoral activity' and being a disruptive influence in the work place. How very interesting indeed. First they create the problem with their prejudice against him and then blame any resulting turmoil on him as well.

Is this not a prime example of hate speech and incitement to hate? So much for a "loving" faith indeed!

A small man in a pulpit makes a personal attack on somebody for no justifiable reason and he is then left to face the fallout on his own, with co-workers and management making life unbearable for him - not because of his job performance which does concern them - but on personal matters which don't concern them in the least. And apparently these people have the blatant lack of IQ to not only believe what is said - but to persecute somebody based on the programming they allow others to insert freely into their minds without any question.

As another example, let us examine the emerging saga of the Pink Loerie Festival, which has been facing an unrelenting attack from right wing Christian fundamentalist elements for some time now.

Most recently email and Internet campaigns against the Pink Loerie Festival use as their main weapons, lies about the parade clearly intended to incite anger among their supporters over matters such as alleged "nudity" and "simulated sex acts" at previous events. It has also been alleged that HIV-positive children who make puppets for the parade and directly benefit from the exposure have been "forced" to take part - and still the lies go on.

I wonder - isn't lying supposed to be a 'sin'? Or is it okay to lie when trying to make people you hate look bad?

Blatantly fundamentalist "Christian" Facebook groups continue to make personal attacks on the mayor of Knysna for withdrawing what was in fact a biased and negative "survey" to “test” the attitude of residents and visitors towards the festival. Another group made an overture attacking the festival from a Knysna business point of view, and while recieving the backing of just one supporter, was inundated under masses of mails from those who support the festival, both GLBT and straight.

Reliable sources indicate that the survey launched by the Knysna Town Council was met with widespread criticism due to the unprofessional and biased way in which it was drafted. Also, the overwhelming support that poured in for the festival from across the country came from both gay and straight people.

Further, there are reports of an email campaign led by Errol Naidoo of the Family Policy Institute and petitions by local Pastor Jerome Nel (signed by only 300 people). What does this small four day event in a small town have to do with Naidoo who lives 500 km away in Cape Town and concerns himself with attacking gay rights and dignity in parliament? Both he and Nel, as so-called "men of god" should look within themselves and try to make themselves better examples of their faith before trying to convince the rest of the world that they have anything worthwhile to offer - unless they are actually trying to market bigotry, intolerance and hypocrisy.

Such dastardly and underhanded campaigns undermine the foundations of our young democracy and threaten the civil equalities for which so many have fought so hard to achieve. If their holinesses Naidoo and Nel - or their tiny group of supporters - feel offended by the celebration of cultural diversity at the Pink Loerie, they have every right to not attend this event - but no right whatsoever to force their religious piety and bigoted views and disdain for diversity on the rest of us. The majority of religious folk in SA seem to follow a policy of 'live and let live' - these holier-than-the-rest-of us hypocrites should do the same and try to be more "Christian".